How to make your coffee at home taste like Starbucks’

“Yeah, but it doesn’t taste the same as when you guys make it.”

Brewing a perfect cup--just a matter of setting up right

Cup-a cup-a cup-a cup-a cup!

I hear this often when I talk to people about buying whole bean coffee to brew at home or work. Starbucks doesn’t use beans that are any different than what they retail. The equipment they use is fast, precise, and (thus) expensive, but it doesn’t do anything magic to it either. So what is the difference?

It’s just a question of simple chemistry. This post will tell you how to get those results at home.

Why your coffee doesn’t taste the way it does at Starbucks (and how to fix it)

Brewing coffee well has five factors: beans, temperature, and grind (3 most critical), as well as water quality and volume of coffee.

  1. The beans should be what you like. (I have my favorites, tried and true.)
  2. The temperature should be HOT. Upwards of 200 degrees. Just under boiling. This causes the greatest amount of solubility without burning it. (In other words, you’ll get the most flavor in the cup.)
  3. The grind depends solely on the brewing method you use. An even, proper grind is really important. (This is why burr grinders are best, but a basic blade grinder works fine. It is best if you grind the coffee in smaller amounts for shorter times to keep it more even.)
    • French press should be the most coarse, then regular drip, then a cone filter, then espresso. Turkish coffee is the finest because you don’t bother filtering that mess–just throw it right in the water and chew, like coffee sludge. I ordered this once at a cafe not knowing what it was. Hooooo lawdy! Anyway, here is a pretty good article on grinding if you want more specifics.

Use more coffee than you are used to

The biggest reason that people end up with weak coffee is that they don’t use enough grounds. On the side of every bag, Starbucks has this ratio printed:

2 tablespoons of grounds to 6 oz of water.

  • This is the “golden ratio” if you want it to taste as strong as it does in-store, and if the water is hot enough! Many people use this much coffee to brew a whole pot, but at Starbucks, this is just enough for a single large cup. You need to have more grounds and the hot water to extract as much out of those grounds as possible.


  • The quality of the water is a big one. I can be mountain man and drink whatever, but tap water is going to really flavor and funk up your coffee. Use filtered or distilled water at least. Through Lewis Enterprises, I sell a high quality, simple water filter for your kitchen. But whatever you do, avoid tap water. Coffee is very largely made up of water still, and even a little chlorine or metallic taste will overwhelm it.


That is it! If you have filtered water, it’s really hot, and you have enough grounds per cup (2 tablespoons to 6 oz water) of coffee that is ground right for what you are brewing it in, you can’t go wrong. You can always add ‘frufru” syrups and spices to it, milk, etc. to make it more fun. But the coffee at it’s core should be great.


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  1. stockli530 says:

    The water temperature is probably the biggest reason people don’t get coffee that tastes the same. The vast majority of home coffee makers simply don’t brew hot enough.
    Why, after 30+ years, most coffee makers can’t get hot enough to brew coffee properly who knows… you would think the design change needed would be rather simple.

    • You’re right about that. It doesn’t even have to be kept super hot; it just has to brew hot. Unfortunately, most people tend to associate hot coffee with “freshest.”

      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  2. Lisa Koch says:

    But how long to brew it once you add the hot water?

  3. Monique Stam says:

    So would heating filtered water on the stove to near boiling then putting into your home expresso maker work? Are the little “baskets” on the home makers even big enough to do what you are recommending? Thanks for your insights!

  4. I’m looking at this from the perspective of making coffee at home to bring to work every morning so that I can save money from my Starbucks addiction. I’m definitely in a hurry as I making breakfast, lunch, getting dressed, and getting everything else I need for the day together in the wee hours.

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